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Factors That Determine Your Level of Alcohol Impairment

Posted on November 25, 2020 in DUI

You have undoubtedly noticed that when alcohol is consumed at social events, the effects of alcohol vary from person to person. You might have a friend who feels the effects after a single drink, while another might seem utterly unaffected by two or three.

To understand how each individual is affected by alcohol, look at the interplay of factors and circumstances such as gender, weight, pace at which the alcohol is consumed, and so on. They help to determine impairment, as well as the likelihood of a DUI arrest.

Factors Determining Impairment Levels

  • Gender: in general, alcohol affects women more than men because women’s bodies have proportionately more fat and less water than men’s bodies. Water dilutes alcohol, while fat retains it. Plus, men’s bodies have more of the enzymes used to metabolize alcohol.
  • Pace of consumption: the shorter the time in which alcohol is consumed, the higher the blood alcohol content (BAC). In Arizona, the DUI threshold is a BAC of .08 percent.
  • Ethnicity: research shows that in general, people of Native American and Asian descent have lower levels of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol, meaning high concentrations can build faster and that alcohol remains in the blood longer.
  • Body type: people of smaller stature become impaired faster. Those with higher percentages of body fat tend to be affected more by alcohol, because the concentration of alcohol is proportionally higher in the lean tissues of their bodies.
  • Food: those with food in their stomachs are affected less by alcohol because food slows the absorption of alcohol into the blood, slowing impairment.
  • Mixed drinks: carbonated drinks speed up alcohol absorption. When alcohol is mixed with colas and tonic water, the alcohol is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream, which increases impairment.
  • Mood: strong emotions such as loneliness and anger tend to speed up impairment.

Other factors and circumstances affecting impairment ( include sleep and the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

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